Travel Log 2: “Looking Behind and Looking Ahead: Rites of Separation” by Ben Raymond. Derry, NH.

As Ernie Harwell once said, “It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure.” The more I thought about these words, the more I began to see how they held growing importance in my life. Having never left the country, I don’t feel that I have truly had the opportunity to say “hello” to my own adventure. By taking this next step, I feel that I can truly become my own image of what it is like to be an adult – someone who has the independence to make their own decisions on a journey led by themselves. I can’t wait to have the opportunity in a few days to prove to my family as well as myself that I have the maturity to embark on this experience of a lifetime. I am a little bit hesitant to cut ties with my family, but on the same note, I couldn’t pick a better time to take this leap of faith.

As I shared my separation letter with my family, I was expecting to see my mother become quite emotional, yet to my surprise, she responded with a positive and excited energy. Nothing could mean more than to have my parents’ support during the trip, and especially within the next few days. They couldn’t be happier with my decision to study abroad, although they remind me daily how much they are going to miss me. I have also noticed that my father has been treating with more maturity in the weeks leading up to the trip. I think this could possibly be because he knows I am ready to embark on my next chapter in life. Conversations with him have evolved form father-son to man-to-man.

To look at studying abroad even from a year back, I would measure the success of my travels with how much fun I had during my time away. Although there is nothing wrong with this view, I notice now that this outlook is quite one-dimensional. There is so much more I can get out of studying abroad than just having fun. Now, I measure the success of my experience by the knowledge and maturity I have gained by making the trip. I want to have a better understanding of the world from a perspective other than the United States’ – to be able to dive into another culture with an open mind and see how much of an impact it can have on me.

The picture I chose is one of a car’s rear view mirror. I was once asked by a friend why the rear view mirror was smaller than the car’s windshield. Of course, I didn’t have a good answer for my friend, as I was a little confused by his question. To my surprise, he followed his question with a somewhat corny, yet memorable quote. He said, “It’s simple. The rear view mirror is smaller because you need very little focus on where you’ve been in order to drive forward. Check behind you every once in a while, but keep most of your focus on the road that lies ahead.” I thought this analogy depicted my current situation perfectly, since I can still be aware of where I came from, yet I have most of my focus on the adventure that awaits. I plan to carry this mindset with me as I travel to Australia; I want to contribute and express my culture with local Australians, while my main focus will be to observe what is in front of me with an open mind.